In keeping with years past, we fully expect that about the time we polish off our last turkey sandwich, the online barrage of 2011 best/worst lists involving topics we've already heard entirely too much about this year will begin (holiday cocktail recipes, anyone?). Nothing against Casey Anthony or Charlie Sheen, but we'd much rather discuss the finer culinary highlights of the year. And so in the interest of getting a jump on Nancy Grace, we're going ahead and dubbing 2011 the Year of Jam — or the Year of Mustard, Pickles and/or Kimchi, should you prefer.

Not only have we seen a surge of small-batch jam and preserves companies in L.A. (Squirl and Laura Ann's Jams among them) alongside that steady stream of canning and preserving books hitting bookstore shelves, but the second class of the L.A. County Master Food Preservers program is graduating today — congratulations!

If your fig compote technique needs some work, those graduating students still have 30 hours of community service hours to fill, so keep an eye out for free demos and brush-up classes. Or, you can hit the Master Food Preservers' first holiday fundraiser that will include mustard making and fruit-infused liqueur demos for food preservationists in training ($45, December 4, 1 to 4 p.m. at Homegirl Café).

Now if only a few L.A. casalingos would start a Master Charcuterie program in 2012.

[Felicia Friesema, who covers farmers market produce for this blog, chronicled her experience as a student in the first Master Food Preservers graduating class on Squid Ink.]

[More from Jenn Garbee @eathistory +]

LA Weekly